Manchester United host Barcelona at Old Trafford in the first round of our Champions League quarter-final this evening.
We overcame the odds to upset Paris Saint-Germain in the second leg of the previous round to set up a tie against the runaway Spanish league leaders in the last eight. Barcelona are evens favourites with the bookmakers for the first leg.
However, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer heads into this evening’s game with a number of injuries and having lost a couple of games recently.
Here’s the Manchester United team I think we’ll see lining up against Barcelona:
Goalkeeper: David de Gea
The Spaniard can expect a busy game as he faces the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho this evening. Barcelona are expected to see the majority of possession, attacks and shots in this game.
Defence: Ashley Young, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw
Eric Bailly and Antonio Valencia are both ruled out through injury so you can expect Ole to stick with his preferred back four. Phil Jones is the only candidate who could disrupt this. Luke Shaw can expect a very busy game up against Lionel Messi when he’s out on the right, but we also need to be wary of Ashley Young going up against Coutinho. Not only will our two centre-backs have to deal with Luis Suarez, but Messi loves to cut inside too and run at defences. Our back four are going to be in for a long night.
Midfield: Scott McTominay, Nemanja Matic, Diogo Dalot, Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial
Ole said in yesterday’s pre-match press conference that he is hopeful Nemanja Matic will be fit for this evening’s game. With Ander Herrera sidelined we need all the central midfielders we can get. Unfortunately Matic isn’t as mobile as the Spaniard so I fear they may pass their way around him at will this evening. Scott McTominay is more mobile and will be in for a busy evening. Paul Pogba needs to work hard off the ball and no stupid challenges. Diogo Dalot playing on the right wing means we have an extra defender on the field when out of possession. Marcus Rashford is a doubt so I think we’ll see Anythong Martial start down the left.
Striker: Romelu Lukaku
A bit of muscle up front could be what we need to trouble the Barcelona defence. Don’t expect Romelu Lukaku to see too many touches or chances on Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s goal, but we could really do with the Belgian holding the ball up well to give our defence a breather.
Here’s our team on paper: